Be Peace: Making of
In my previous post, I highlighted a group of women active in the Montreal art and technology field. I enjoy sharing about people Bis Films has worked with and who are important to us. Writing that post, I realized how many more amazing women surround us but just didn’t fit into the narrow field of “art and technology.” That is why I want to take advantage of a recently released short video, Be Peace, featuring Jo Willers and Janie Pelletier, to share my experience in making the video.
Both Janie and Jo are in the final stages training as Moksha Yoga instructors. To complete their training, they have to propose 10 projects based on the Moksha values. For their final project, they decide to feature a video dimension. Here is the short version of our “experiment”: We chose various locations in downtown Montreal that would not necessarily be associated with meditation. Jo and Janie would perform a short meditation routine that I would capture by taking shots that would portray them in their environment. We left the process open to improvisation as we felt the unforeseen interactions between the two Js and their surrounding environment was rich with potential but could not be planned for.
Thus, we set out on a snowy Monday in December. A routine quickly developed. We would arrive at our location and choose where the 2 Js would meditate. Once my gear ready, the two of them would walk up to their perch, sit down, close their eyes, and go into a meditative state within the hustle bustle environment. With my camera, tripod, and Kessler Pocket Dolly, my goal was to find angles that emphasized the tension that reigned between the meditating girls and their frenetic setting. When finished, I would gently let the 2 Js know and they would finish their meditation with a final bow. We repeated this routine nearly a dozen times in locations that ranged from a foggy mountaintop (the Mont-Royal lookout) to a busy shopping street.
It was fascinating to see the range of reactions passersby would show with regards to the two meditators. Some walked by, trying to understand what the pair was up to. Others spotted the camera, then turned their head away or showboated for their friends. A handful actually stopped to look at Jo and Janie, either contemplating the scene or taking a smart phone snapshot. And then there were those who just walked by without noticing the unusual change in their environment. In the end, only a handful of the many reactions made it to the final edit.
As the filming advanced, I found myself harboring admiration for the endurance Jo and Janie displayed. The initial goal of the experiment was to challenge people by presenting them with an unusual situation to show that one could be at peace, regardless of their surroundings. Being at peace in a hectic environment could not be difficult for these two trained yoga instructors to achieve… or so we thought. As time passed, the cold started taking a toll on the 2 Js’ mind and body. It proved to be physically challenging for them to sit in a single position for extended periods of time. More so, it was mentally demanding to repeatedly shut out the aggressive surroundings (the cold, passersby, nearby cars, etc.) from their mind. At the end of the day, Jo described to me how she never knew if a passing car would splash her with slush. She wondered how she would have reacted? She never was splashed, but she made me realize how trying the repeated meditations must have been for the 2 Js, despite their apparent calm.
Something else pleasantly surprised me. I expected to take on the role of mere cameraman. Instead, I too became intricately involved in the meditation. Although my eyes were open and I was free to move around, unlike the 2 Js, I found myself dropping into a contemplative state in which only the steady movements of the camera remained. A feeling of peace descended upon me, unexpectedly.
I am proud of the work we did as well as the impact the video had on its viewers. Although this is true of most projects we work on, the process of making Be Peace left a distinct impression upon me; that calm can be found everywhere, especially when one is performing something he or she loves.
A last note, Be Peace was Jo’s and Janie’s final project, and it was accepted. They have officially completed their training and are now full fledged yoga instructors. Congratulations ladies!